Big data in education

Analysing data and building new ways to help students achieve their best

Barker College is a co-ed school on Sydney’s north shore with about 2,150 students ranging from pre-school to year 12. Administrators needed to make better use of day-to-day student data in order to improve school efficiencies and student outcomes.

In particular, Barker College sought a more complete view of how student academic performance aligned with key behavioural and welfare events. It also wanted the ability to produce clear, visual data for one-on-one student
discussions regarding academic progress and goals for the future.

This enhanced capability would enhance the school community’s commitment to a strong academic program where each student is encouraged to think independently, clearly and creatively, regardless of the subject they are studying.

Datacom was invited to provide an analytical solution using Big Data techniques to replace an ageing IT system that required manual data entry to produce inefficient, siloed processes and data sets.

The outdated systems were inhibiting the ability to combine datasets with outside agencies.

Barker College expected the new system to provide the insights they required to improve its students’ academic and co-curricular endeavours as well as the ability to identify trends and future behavioural events.

Datacom provided a Microsoft Power BI interface which provided a single ‘window pane’ that the school could use to review student data. Datacom also developed a correlation engine that displayed this information onto a live dashboard and incorporated data across the previous eight years to improve their ability to forecast trends.

Datasets from the school management system and academic assessment programmes such as NAPLAN, Academic Assessment Services, and HSC data are now being used to provide the instant insights into student performance that were not previously possible. Its real time availability, user friendly GUI (Graphical User Interface) and adaptability allows for new data analytic capabilities to be added for future insights.

Aside from academic performance, Barker College is also using this data to improve extracurricular outcomes. The insights now available into the relationships between student attendance, welfare and co-curricular contributions are another tool that can be used to prepare students as problems-solvers and future leaders.

The ability to improve overall educational outcomes has been boosted by the ability to analyse and visualise large amounts of data.

“Working with Datacom, and using Microsoft Power BI we were able to present our data in a form that is readily accessible, easy to use and is a powerful tool to educate our youth. Datacom has enabled us to see data in forms that are particular to Barker College, and have endeavoured to give us a unique package that satisfies our needs. We look forward to a continuation of this work as we progress further in the improvement of our use of data visualisation.”

Michael Boland, Director of Educational Measurement and Testing